Putting a bow on the newly-minted Division II baseball champs from Mount St. Charles …
• It’s the nature of baseball’s beast to focus on offensive accomplishments. Everyone loves tales that involve home runs, clutch hits, and RBI.
No question, Everett Misto is a most worthy selection as MVP of Mount’s two-game finals sweep of Barrington. What the junior did with the bat earlier this week at McCoy Stadium was special, from his game-winning double in the series opener against the Eagles, to a first-inning double that got the Mounties off on the right foot in Game Two.
What shouldn’t get lost in the afterglow is the glovework that Misto turned in while patrolling center field at a venue long known for posing defensive challenges to the high school ballplayers who set foot on McCoy’s playing surface for the first time.
All told, Misto recorded 11 putouts in the two games that were needed to decide the best in D-II in 2019. He read every ball correctly – no small feat considering he was looking directly into a sea of grandstand seats that at times can play tricks on an outfielder’s eyes when judging flyballs at McCoy. With the clear gift of closing speed, Misto succeeded in tracking everything down. It was clear that nothing was getting by him.
“If I could describe him in one word, it’s vacuum. He sucks everything in out there,” said Mount catcher Trey Bourque. “There are some balls that no one thinks he’s going to get to, but he’s an unbelievable player.”
When sizing up what Misto brings to the table from a defensive vantage point, three plays from Game Two stand out. The first occurred leading off the bottom of the fourth as Barrington’s Sam Tanous sent a shot that led to Misto making a nice running catch.
The second key grab also came in the fourth and had a game-defining aura surrounding it. The Eagles had just tied the game at 2-2 and had a runner on first base when Matt Macaluso lined what appeared to be a gapper that appeared to be destined to find grass in left-center field. There was Misto, who got a great jump, hustled to his left, and at the last second leaped into the air to grab the final out of the fourth.
If Misto doesn’t make that particular play, it’s entirely possible that Barrington ends up taking the lead, thus forcing Mount to, once again, don rally caps for the umpteenth time in these playoffs. Instead, a deadlock was still in place.
If you ask the youngster himself, Misto will tell you that the degree of difficulty wasn’t that high. To his MSC teammates and coaches, not to mention interested onlookers, it was clear as day that Misto took away extra bases from Macaluso.
“I saw it off the bat right away,” said Misto.
“It’s a great confidence booster out there, knowing that everything will be caught,” said MSC junior Tommy Burke, who fired a complete-game, one-hitter in Wednesday’s clincher. “Great catch by him. That’s why he deserved to be named MVP.”
The third and final notable grab produced by Misto in Game Two came with one down in the sixth inning and the tying run standing in the batter’s box after a single by Barrington’s Josh Leadem. The Eagles cleanup hitter, Henry Johnson, hit a popup that initially seemed to be a play that either Mount shortstop Isaiah Lee or left fielder Bryan Testa would make.
Charging hard from his centerfield perch was Misto. In one hard-charging motion, he called off Lee and Testa and didn’t slam on the brakes until the ball was secure in his glove.
“I didn’t hear them and just wanted to take charge,” said Misto.
Misto finished the season with a .602 batting average. Just as noteworthy, he didn’t commit a single error and threw out six baserunners.
That’s what you call a well-rounded MVP.
• From responding to pressure to applying pressure, the Mounties in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game took a page from a key development from their semifinal-round, series-clinching contest against Tolman.
In both instances, MSC proved more than up for the challenge.
First, a refresher. In the sixth inning of Game Three against the Tigers, MSC’s Testa delivered a perfect throw from left field to nab the potential tying run at the plate. Fast forward to Wednesday as Bourque broke from third on a groundball hit to the left side. Barrington got the out at first base, yet the relay to home was short-hopped as Bourque slid in safely with a run that put Mount up 3-2.
Talk about being right on the money … twice over.
• After serving as the assistant coach when Mount captured back-to-back D-II championships in 2009-10 and won it all again in 2015, Paul Jacques finally finds himself in the well-deserved position of taking a bow as the program’s head coach.
“This is unbelievable. The kids and the coaching staff … everyone worked extremely hard. All the extra effort, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Jacques. “It feels great to say I’ve helped earned this as the head coach. It’s definitely different.”
• Without hesitation, Bourque offered why winning the Division II title supersedes his association with the 2014 Cumberland American Little League team that won the New Englands and made a national name for itself at that year’s Little League World Series thanks in large part to Dave Belisle’s heartfelt speech that ESPN caught on camera.
“Both were unbelievable experiences, but this time, we were able to cap it off with a championship,” said Bourque. “That makes it all that much better.”
• Looking ahead to the 2020 season, the expectation is that Mount will field a team that’s definitely worthy of a title defense. The core of Misto, Bourque, Lee, Testa, Ryan Kenney, and A.J. Cook will all be seniors and undoubtedly eager to go for another brass ring after experiencing the thrill of winning it all.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03